Sepsis: Dr Chris reveals how to reduce risk of infection
Occasionally when the immune system releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight an infection, those chemicals can attack normal organs and tissues. This immune overreaction is called sepsis and can cause inflammation, blood flow problems, low blood pressure, trouble breathing and vital organ failure. Sepsis in children – and adults – can be life-threatening. The Crown actor, Jason Watkins sadly lost his daughter back in 2011 of sepsis. What are the symptoms to spot?
Appearing on the Lose Woman panel Jason said: “In the lead up to Christmas 2010, Maude started showing signs of flu – she was losing her voice.
“It was what you would think as a parent would be flu or a heavy cold.
“I had an instinct that maybe something else was going on.”
Jason continued: “The next day the symptoms were worse, and she was having breathing difficulties.
“We drove to the hospital, and she was losing consciousness, we ran to A&E and were seen by a paediatric expert.
“Again, she was given standard procedural treatment.”
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Initially Maude had developed a persistent cough and consequent respiratory problems which prompted two consecutive visits to a hospital A&E, where she was initially diagnosed with croup, a type of respiratory infection.
But within two weeks of developing her first symptoms she was dead.
She had in fact fallen victim to sepsis, an insidious illness in which the immune system reacts violently to infection, attacks its own tissue and eventually leads to organ failure.
Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the body’s response to an infection damages its own tissues.
When the infection-fighting processes turn on the body, they cause organs to function poorly and abnormally.
Sepsis may progress to septic shock. This is a dramatic drop in blood pressure that can lead to severe organ problems and death.
Early treatment with antibiotics and intravenous fluids improves chances for survival.
Symptoms of sepsis according to the Cleveland Clinic include:
- Fast heart rate
- Fever or hypothermia (very low body temperature)
- Shaking or chills
- Warm or clammy/sweaty skin
- Confusion or disorientation
- Hyperventilation (rapid breathing) or shortness of breath
Who’s at risk?
The very old (older than 65 years old) or very young or pregnant women
People with pre-existing infections or medical conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, cancer and kidney disease
People with weakened immune systems
Patients who are in the hospital
People with severe injuries, such as large burns or wounds
Patients with catheters (IVs, urinary catheters) or a breathing tube
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